I want to be a Jello-Like Feminist
When I grow, I have decided that I want to be jello feminist someone who has both form and amenability. I want to be able to say, with bottomless conviction, that patriarchy must be dismantled immediately. However, within the same breath respect my grandmother’s belief that black men must be the head of the house knowing there is a need for positive and nurturing black men in families irrespective of sexuality or biological relationship.
You see, with a jello-like mind, I am able to be both the subject of the sentence (i.e. I am) and also know simultaneously that my subjectivity can also become a type of objectivity better known as the infamous Ego. Yes, we feminist do have Ego for we, like all people, are human and respond to life’s challenges in very human-like ways sometimes.
Yes, I want to be a jello-like feminist.
I want to be able to wobble about my convictions when speaking with non-feminists who see the world drastically different from me. I want them to transparently see me struggle with understanding how black feminism is one of many perennial thoughts (e.g. Christianity, Islam, Scientology, Mayan belief systems, Yoruba belief systems) about living a spiritual whole life. Moreover, I want to be soft enough like jello to be digested by people whose teeth and stomachs are not yet fully strong enough to understand the many academic terms and phrases—male gaze, intersectionality, politics of difference—we use to denote sexism and oppression, though they know with the conviction of a stalwart general that “virginity testing” of female protesters in Egypt is unequivocally wrong.
As a jello-like feminist, I will be able to see within myself because jello is not dense. It is translucent at best. Literally, I will be able to see how I treat others and, hopefully, laugh as well as forgive myself when I live out my contradictions knowing that this too is a part of the energy needed to liberate all women and girls globally. For the goal in life is not to be principled for principle’s sake, but to be able to see black feminism (i.e. my principal) in various contexts and underneath various colored basement-like lights . . . lights that may ask why is there a church on every corner in communities of color and not a black feminist space on every corner . . . could it be that Christianity on its most good day has something to teach black feminism about how to connect with various types of black women since many black women attend church weekly. But, only a jello-like feminist can stand to hear such questions and answers because it requires flexibility of thought and the ability to wobble when needed.
I wholeheartedly believe that this is what we want as black feminists to be jello like for if we choose not to strive to be like jello then often than not we develop the opposite characteristics of what I have come to think of as “brick-like” mindsets. You see, brick-like people can only believe what they believe because the origin of their form is solid disallowing free movement and thought. Furthermore, when put under pressure they break . . . crumble for they lack the elasticity and constitution of jello which is able to, under pressure, ooze out depending on the temperature of the room and re-solidify itself into a new form. Also, and, most importantly, when bricks are thrown they do hurt people. They bruise bodies and break limbs for the nursery rhyme is true, “Stick and stones will break your bones.” And, if all of this was not bad enough, bricks don’t float and they do not promote community for who says, “Hey, let’s go get a bowl of brick . . . Have you tried that new brick flavor.” I tell you, as black feminist, we are supposed to be jello-like for if not we will experience burn-out. There are only so many times you can throw a brick before it completely crumbles from the impact against institutions, break from the pressure to change oppression, and crack from the emotional weight of seeing women and girls abused. I tell you, we were never meant to be bricks.
At this present moment, I am learning to appreciate the process of wobbling like jello though it is difficult to learn given that my very nature albeit my pathologies greatly desire certainty—this is a feminist and this is not a feminist, this is truth and that is a lie. However, what I am beginning to learn is that there is no certainty in life for everything in life is always in a state of change meaning my current beliefs about life and what it means to be a feminist will undergo change. And, this is a good thing. Often, what we lack as feminists when persuading people to understand the need to dismantle systems of oppression is nuance and nuance can only come from being able to bend like jello which means the ability to embrace change when it presents itself and it presents itself daily . . . literally minute by minute. All you have to do as the song says is wobble a little bit.
Of course, I am not preaching this to the choir for I am actually writing this to myself because one day in the bathroom mirror where all great spiritual revelations are revealed, I saw the black feminist I had become. I had become the thing I hated the most as a recovering Christian fundamentalist. I had become solid. I had become stone. I had become a feminist who would say judgmental things like, “I don’t do organized religion” as if it was a fashion faux pas in the feminist world. I disavowed my belief in Jesus for fear of not being seen as a “real black feminist.” I quietly kept to myself that I dated men and men who were not necessarily black feminists. I became brick-like because of fear a fear of being seen as a jello-like wobbler.
I tell you; to live a life seeking constant perfection of your beliefs is no fun. It lacks passion which gives our many arguments for feminism nuance. I tell you, to live a life waiting to tap people’s hands with rulers when they stumble in the process of growing lacks self-reflection and fluidity. Furthermore, we miss the purpose and perhaps I should say multiple purposes because things are always in a state of change of why black feminism came into the world or why Islam/Buddhism came into the world, for they are two of many ways to live the “examined life.”
Of course, my writing on jello-like feminism is not to ignore the urgency of ending oppression against women or to shun firm responses to oppression for this is not the purpose of my writing. The point of my essay is help us, black feminists, see that a jello-like disposition—soft like jello, transparent like jello, wobble with our beliefs like jello, shake from laughing at ourselves like jello; very firm (given the temperature) when needed like jello, reflective like jello, and fluid like jello—will help us more effectively address violence against women and girls globally. However, if we develop non-amenable brick-like mentalities we will only alienate the women and girls we so desire to help.
Once again, if we are honest with ourselves as feminists we would admit that our childhood pathologies tend to shape our brick like thoughts and behaviors. Yes, I work to end violence against women and girls because it is wrong and my soul weeps to hear such things, but also it is a natural fit because of how I was taught in my violent home to help those who are abused even to the point of co-dependency and even to the point of denying my own boundaries (i.e. brick like burnout). All of this shapes my struggle to be jello-like especially if part of my pathology is to never stop helping people who are broken and abused even when I know they must stand on their own two feet. You see, my brick-like mindset will continue to help . . . it lacks the fluidity to change.
Once again, we were never meant to be bricks.
All in all, let it be known that most people irrespective of age tend to like jello . . . jello pudding . . . jello pops. Simply ask Bill Cosby who made millions from his jello pudding commercials. Furthermore, there’s always an opportunity to eat jello in school lunches, in the hospital, and at family reunions where Aunt Betsy serves it with whip cream and cherries. At some point in our lives we well all encounter jello and wouldn’t that be something if this was also true of black feminism.
Yes, I want to be a Jello-like feminist.